Address by Minister Des Van Rooyen at the 2016 SALGA National Conference

Posted on Posted in Minister Des Van Rooyen

29 November 2016,

Johannesburg

 

Programme Director, Mr Mpho Nawa,

SALGA Chairperson, Mr Parks Tau,

Outgoing SALGA Chair, Mr Thabo Manyoni

Chair of the NCOPA, Honourable Thandi Modise,

Vice-President of Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign

Countries, Mme. LinYi,

Deputy Chair of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Mahlangu,

Representatives of SAMWU and IMATU,

Representatives of international organisations,

Leaders in Local Government,

SALGA Members,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

 

Introduction

 

Good Morning,

 

It feels good to be back home.

 

As an erstwhile member of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), I take pride in the fact that SALGA celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

 

Our congratulations go to the past and current leadership of SALGA for so ably steering the ship of local government, through sometimes turbulent waters, over the past two decades.

 

You have left an indelible mark on the local government sector, which future generations will no doubt celebrate magnanimously.

 

SALGA has played a vital role in transforming the local government sector from its apartheid past, to one that represents and honours all of South Africa’s citizens.

 

As government, we recognize that the role of SALGA as the embodiment of organised local government is critical in a developmental state, a State in which government’s programme of action and policies are largely driven and of course implemented at local level in 257 municipalities, representing 56 million citizens.

 

SALGA is an active participant in the Inter-Government Relations (IGR) system, as the voice of local government.

 

In the past 20 years SALGA has refined its Constitutional and Legislative mandate into a very clearly defined set of outcomes.

 

I am proud to say that over the past 20 years you have fulfilled this mandate with growing effectiveness, including in leading by example of good governance with four successive clean audits as recognized by the Auditor-General.

 

This has been coupled with a constantly increasing achievement of your annual targets, some of which the department is glad and proud to have worked with you on.

 

SALGA recently spearheaded the Integrated Councillor Induction Programme, following the recent local government elections.

 

SALGA is indeed walking the talk and must continue to do so!

 

Let us continue on this path together.

 

While we congratulate SALGA on its role in transforming our democracy, let us also celebrate the current chairperson of SALGA, Mr Parks Tau.

 

In embodying the excellence that SALGA seeks to achieve, Chairperson Tau was recently elected as the President of the United Cities and Local Government, the umbrella body for local government around the world.

 

The fact that he received overwhelming support is a reflection of the esteem that he is held in, internationally, as well as for his work while Mayor of the City of Johannesburg.

 

We congratulated President Tau in Quito last month shortly after he was elected in Bogota.

 

But we need to congratulate him again in this Conference because it is a significant achievement for him personally and for the leadership role of the country in general.

 

It is one thing being recognised by your peers in South Africa, however recognition by the whole world is indeed outstanding.

 

It is important to recognise that this achievement is a demonstration that despite some of the challenges that we are currently facing in the bedding down of our young local democracy, the world recognises that we have indeed made huge strides within the short space of time that we have had so far.

 

Congratulations. You have done South Africa proud.

 

SALGA Members,

 

We meet in the midst of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

 

As leaders in the local government sector ours is a responsibility to ensure that our actions protect the most vulnerable amongst us.

 

Even small actions such as cutting the grass along pathways and ensuring suitable lighting will improve the safety of the women and children who reside in our municipalities.

 

Let these concerns continue to guide our actions.

 

 

SDGs, New Urban Agenda and IUDF

 

Mayors and councillors,

 

The 21st century is not only an African century, but also an urban century.

 

Our gathering occurs at a vital moment in this century’s history.

 

Last year, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reinforced the importance of the role of cities during this century.

 

SDG 11 is to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

 

Among the targets SDG 11 sets out are:

 

  • “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries”

 

I mention these targets because they should also inform our work as municipalities.

 

When we get up each morning, these and the other targets of SDG 11 should occupy our minds as we seek new ways of achieving them.

 

Of course the other reason this marks an important moment in history for us, is that we have just emerged from the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, or Habitat 3 as it is commonly known.

 

The conference has laid out the New Urban Agenda, which sets global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development and is effectively a roadmap for the next 20 years.

 

The New Urban Agenda will serve as a blueprint for a South African implementation plan to be jointly developed by all stakeholders.

 

As many of you know, Cabinet passed the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) in April this year.

The IUDF is South Africa’s plan for our urban future.

 

Apartheid spatial planning continues to dominate our urban landscape and in many instances determines the future of the majority of our citizens.

 

When you live far from work, schools, centres of economic activity and education, your ability to lift yourselves out of poverty is greatly reduced.

 

The IUDF aims to create a future that is socially and economically inclusive.

 

It calls for urban spaces that are compact, coordinated and connected.

 

What this simply means is that we must strive to build urban environments where one can work, live and play in the same spaces.

 

Too many of us still suffer from the insult of having to travel great distances to get to and from work.

 

The IUDF aims to change this.

 

It is critical that you familiarise yourselves with the IUDF.

 

For the IUDF to achieve its goals will require the input and buy-in of all stakeholders, from local government actors, national and provincial government departments, community-based organisations, community members, planners, academics, and the private sector.

 

We will need to implement the IUDF collaboratively, so a continuous process of stakeholder engagement and sharing of information will ensure that we are all empowered to participate meaningfully in the creation of our urban future.

 

Locally, a cross-referencing and alignment processes between the New Urban Agenda (NUA), with the IUDF, and relevant sectoral polices such as those for human settlements, the economy and transport, will now be the approach to determine common goals for implementation.

 

A process of prioritisation, together with intergovernmental stakeholders at each sphere, plus non-state actors, will also be a critical activity for managed urban policy implementation.

 

Together, as representatives of the local government sphere we can play a vital role in determining and achieving the kind of urban future that we want.

 

 

Back to Basics

 

The Back to Basics (B2B) programme continues to underpin the process of change we want to see in the local government sector.

 

The 10-Point Plan that was implemented earlier this year marks the second phase of the B2B programme.

 

We urge all municipalities to adhere to the pillars and prescripts of the B2B programme, especially with regard to monitoring and evaluation.

 

 

Local Government Elections

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Working together we hosted a very successful August 2016 local government elections.

 

The elections were a further demonstration of the maturing of our democratic system.

 

We are working on resolving several issues emanating from those elections.

 

We do need to work more closely to meet the Constitutional Court ruling with regard to the Independent Electoral Commission and verifiable addresses.

 

Voters live in your municipal areas and you should be working towards ensuring that everyone has a verifiable address.

 

This will not only place our citizens on the map, so to speak, but is also the first step to an economically inclusive future.

 

When you are unable to receive your Identity Document, examination results or even a utility or consumer account, your economic options are seriously curtailed.

 

Another concerning aspect was the violence leading up to the elections. We need to deal with the causes of violence.

 

Social cohesion should be at the heart of our development policy and it is vital that we build campaigns around this.

 

We cannot be blind to the impact of endemic violence, alarming rates of substance abuse on families, communities and the country, if our developmental local government is to have any meaning.

 

Essential to this is creating a climate of political tolerance.

 

The elections also resulted in 27 hung municipalities. There have been scenes of disruption in several municipalities and some municipalities are being rendered dysfunctional because of inconclusive outcomes.

 

Respecting the will of the people means that you need to help find ways in which to cooperate on the core matters of what developmental local government means.

 

Thus you need to help embed your Strategic Vision into each part of every municipality.

 

Do not use your workers and unions as tools to disrupt the normal functioning of the municipality.

 

We owe our citizens much more.

 

Urbanisation and economic processes affect all 257 municipalities, but in different ways.

 

Supporting municipalities based on their location within the space economy as well as the impact of urbanisation and regional economics is both vital and necessary.

 

Metropolitan municipalities need to be supported in ways that are different to non-metropolitan municipalities.

 

We urge SALGA to accelerate its programme of differentiated support.

 

 

Continuity and Change

 

A 20-year milestone also serves as a moment of reflection.

 

It is essential that we look back on how we have enabled, or otherwise, the ability of SALGA to execute its mandate.

 

Various indicators demonstrate that SALGA and its members have continuously improved on the delivery of its mandate over time, obviously to varying degrees.

 

There may be areas where we need to sharpen the tools available to execute these mandates. .

 

My department has been engaging with intergovernmental partners with respect to reforms that must be put in place to strengthen local government.

 

The starting point would be to strengthen SALGA in various ways.

 

SALGA has managed its limited finances quite well as indicated in the various annual reports as well as by the Auditor General.

 

However, it could deliver better, especially on representing the sector in the IGR forums, if it were funded differently.

 

The constitutional mandate to represent local government in parliament and other IGR structures need to be better funded by the national fiscus.

 

This is particularly important considering that should SALGA be found in an undesirable situation where it must make trade-offs and decide not to participate in the IGR processes, the constitution and other subsidiary laws shall be contravened.

 

We cannot leave this to chance and must therefore fund the delivery of this mandate more effectively.

 

All spheres of government must collaborate better if we are to dispatch our collective responsibilities to the people of South Africa.

 

The Council of Mayors and the Council of Speakers that have been proposed in your constitutional review provide an opportunity to create cohesion across all municipalities in pursuit of the sectors collective agenda.

 

The interaction between speakers at provincial and national levels should also provide a great opportunity to improve the work of the legislatures across the different spheres.

 

On the review of municipal powers and functions, the view of the department is that this is a critical process, if we are to better clarify and guide the role of the respective municipalities within the two-tier system.

 

This endeavour requires significant intergovernmental consultation and cooperation, ranging from access to data and information, to agreement on possible structural and functional reforms.

 

In this respect, partnerships with SALGA, the Municipal Demarcation Board, the Financial and Fiscal Commission, and various sector departments are already established through the Steering Committee for the Reconfiguration of District Government, and consultative processes are already underway.

 

It also needs to be recognised that, as a unitary state, we must collectively respond to the imperative to apply a differentiated approach to determining the appropriate spatial location, governance and funding arrangements for powers and functions, both in respect to C2 district service delivery functions, as well as the C1 coordination and support roles.

 

This latter role is particularly critical, for example, when we consider the legislated district roles for advancing regional inclusive growth and development initiatives.

 

 

This core mandate, in our view, is a largely undeveloped functional area, and has many implications going forward as we consider the challenges of urbanisation, including integrating development investments, forging urban-rural linkages, and growing the economy.

 

Local government is the central space in these areas, but overcoming obstacles to service delivery and growth demand a comprehensive intergovernmental response.

 

This response must be based upon a sound understanding of how powers and functions are interpreted and managed across the spheres and sectors, and we continue with our collective endeavours to build more clarity in this regard.

 

As you may be aware the Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers has approved the once-off gratuity to non-returning councillors.

 

However, the Commission has expressed its reservations with regard to this payment and we need to ensure that we plan for a future without this. We presume 2016 to be the last time that this payment is effected. SALGA must accelerate issue of a social plan for councillors.

Though the rate of urbanisation, the changing economic environment and the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have certainly imposed a new context upon us, the challenges remain the same.

 

Thus it is not the mandate that needs to change, it is the way you do it that needs review.

 

Conclusion

 

Leadership of SALGA,

 

I’ve read through your draft 2017-2022 Strategy and was immediately struck by your approach of continuity and change being the focus on fulfilling your mandate.

 

This is a refreshing approach and I applaud you for being bold and realistic at the same time.

 

The Strategic Vision – Integrated Management of Space, Economies and People to foster Spatial Justice and Social Cohesion – is a clear demonstration of how you have internalised the implications of the National Development Plan and the Integrated Urban Development Framework.

 

At the same time, you have incorporated several United Nations and African Union processes and commitments:

 

  • AU Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want;
  • Addis Ababa Action Agenda;
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Sendai Framework on Risk Reduction;
  • Paris Climate Agreement; and
  • New Urban Agenda.

 

I believe this approach to continuity and change is led by your Chairperson and President of the UCLG, Parks Tau.

 

I have been engaging my colleagues in Cabinet to explore means of supporting SALGA in various ways, including but not limited to financial support, to ensure the success of South Africa’s term at the helm of this world body leaves an indelible mark on the local government system of the world.

 

I’m convinced that SALGA, in the execution of its new Strategy will find innovative and progressive ways to tackle the challenges before us.

 

I therefore wish you a very successful Conference and look forward to working with you in taking the outcomes forward to build a formidable and people centred local government sector over the next five years in our quest to improve the quality of life and inclusivity of our society.

 

May you continue to Inspire Service Delivery!

 

I thank you.